The Lago de Atitlán (Lake Atitlán) is considered one of the most beautiful lakes globally, rivaling Italy’s Lake Como’s beauty. A volcanic lake, it is also Central America’s deepest, and the water level has been rising in recent years. Located in Guatemala’s highlands, Lago de Atitlán is only about 50 km from Antigua, making it a simple overnight trip. However, many people find one day isn’t enough to explore all the beauty the area has to offer and choose to stay several days in the idyllic towns surrounding the lake.
Lago de Atitlán boasts one of the world’s best climates, with temperatures neither too hot nor too cold, making it enjoyable to explore the region by boat or foot. Guatemala usually is called the Land of Eternal Spring for its year-round mild temperatures. The water of Lago de Atitlán’s surface shimmers aquamarine in the sunshine, and the multi-colored fishing boats add to the natural beauty of the trees and volcanoes in the distance.
Many Guatemalan vacation packages offer a visit to this beautiful region, with a view of three of Guatemala’s most stunning volcanoes, including a stay in one of the many small towns surrounding the lake. The Lago de Atitlán is surrounded by many small villages inhabited mainly by Maya, representing several different Mayan groups. It is common to see people in traditional dress, following some of the traditions passed down for hundreds of years. One of the reasons these towns retain their identities is that there is no main road connecting them around the lake. Each community must either be reached via mountain roads or by boat along the shores of the lake.
Choose to enjoy a Guatemalan adventure by climbing one of the volcanoes that ring the lake, going bird watching, or taking a tour of a coffee farm. A boat ride at sunrise or sunset provides visitors with a sense of the surreal, illuminating the incredible vistas of the water, forests, volcanoes, and picturesque towns that have made this destination a must-see on any Guatemala holiday.
While there are many areas to choose from when deciding where to stay for the night, each provides to visitor a different experience. Panajachel is the most popular with tourists and offers the widest selection of hotels and restaurants to choose from. For a less touristy and more picturesque experience, visit Santa Cruz la Laguna and Jaibalito, both known as quiet, idyllic towns offering spectacular views and plenty of authentic Mayan culture. Jaibalito is only accessible by boat and offers one of the least tourist-influenced views of the region’s traditional way of life.
Another option is to visit the market at Sololá, which runs every Tuesday and Friday. It’s a smaller market than the one at Chichicastenango and less touristy as well. This is a great place to experience some authentic Mayan culture and pick up some handmade souvenirs to take home. Shopping can be done by visiting the shops of Santiago Atitlán, where everything from woven goods to pottery can be found in the many small shops in town.
From luxury travel to budget accommodations, Lago de Atitlán offers something for everyone. Enjoy the spectacular views and local culture on a relaxed tour, or engage in adventure travel by climbing a volcano or diving. Just don’t miss out on the warm hospitality offered by the locals.